Bill Would Let Land Acqusition Program Go Forward

A federal program which has been used to buy conservation land in the western United States would be renewed under legislation now being considered by Congress.

The program, which expired two years ago, permits the Bureau of Management to sell land it owns and use the money from the sale to buy other lands deemed higher priority by federal agencies.

It would be renewed under the proposed Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), which was introduced last week by Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Dean Heller, R-Nev. More than 100 organizations, including The Trust for Public Land, support the proposal.

“The program has been important source of money which improves recreation and access to lands where millions of people visit each year,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land. “Sens. Heinrich and Heller are taking the critical step to get this program back on track and we call on Congress to act quickly to pass this legislation before more opportunities are lost.”

“FLTFA is an excellent model of public land management that achieves conservation and responsible access goals while spurring economic development,” said Sen. Heinrich.

Heller said, “This is an important tool for Nevada and the West and I am pleased to be part of this bipartisan effort.”

The plan provides for money from the BLM sales to be used for other land purchases for the public in national recreational areas, national forests, national trails and other areas. Before the program expired two years ago, the BLM had generated more than $115 million. Other federal agencies then used the money to buy high-priority conservation lands for recreation uses such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and boating, along with historic and scenic purposes.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than 34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.